Operation I-Go

Yamamoto’s Last Offensive ̶ New Guinea and the Solomons April 1943

Michael Claringbould

Operation I-Go was Admiral Yamamoto's last offensive, using a powerful assembly of hundreds of aircraft that threatened to overwhelm Allied defenses in four key South Pacific locations in April 1943.
Date Published :
December 2020
Publisher :
Avonmore Books
Illustration :
fully illustrated in color
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9780648665946
Pages : 158
Dimensions : 9.84 X 6.93 inches
Stock Status : In stock


In early 1943 Japanese forces in the South Pacific had suffered three key strategic setbacks at Guadalcanal, Kokoda and the Battle of the Bismarck Sea. However Japanese strength in the theater was far from spent, and the commander of the IJN Combined Fleet Admiral Yamamoto sensed an opportunity.

By temporarily bolstering his air force at Rabaul with carrier-based airpower, Yamamoto assembled a strike force of hundreds of aircraft. With these he planned to overwhelm Allied defenses in a multi-day blitz against four crucial locations. Named Operation I-Go, it would be the largest IJN air operation ever launched in the region.

The odds favored the plan, but by 1943 I-Go was a huge gamble. Would it strike a body blow and give the Allies reason to pause their advance? Or would it cause irrecoverable wastage of IJN offensive air power?

The results of I-Go were surprising, although it only achieved a fraction of what the Japanese claimed. The greatest irony was that it led to the death of its architect, Yamamoto.

This is the first detailed account of I-Go written with reference to both Japanese and Allied sources, and it surely sets a new historical benchmark for this key chapter of the Pacific War.

About The Author

Raised in Port Moresby, Michael Claringbould is a globally recognized expert on the New Guinea air war and Japanese aviation in particular.


1.            Introduction
2.            Assembling the I-Go Air Force
                                Zeros, Vals and Bettys
                                Air Bases
                                Aircrew Morale and Health
                                Carrier Pilots
                                Reconnaissance Missions & Floatplanes
                                Command and Leadership
                                Admiral Kusaka’s Activities
3.            Strike X – Guadalcanal Shipping
                                Allied Photo Reconnaissance
                                Japanese Formations
                                The Ships
                                “Condition Very Red”
                                Koli Point
                                Lunga Point
                                Nakagawa’s Adventure
                                Toyoda Misrepresented
                                Swett’s Medal of Honor
4.            Strike X – The Allied Response
                                Missing Airacobra
                                Fightin’ Wildcats
                                Corsairs “Most Exciting Day”
                                Two Zero Pilots Captured
                                Retaliation Gone Wrong
                                Claims versus Losses
5.            Strike Y – Shipping at Oro Bay
                                Strike Y Force – Oro Bay
                                Claims versus Losses
6.            Strike Y1 – Port Moresby
                                First Combat
                                The Fighters
                                Allied Losses
                                Claims versus Losses
                                Damage from the Raid
7.            Strike Y2 – Milne Bay
                                RAAF Kittyhawks
                                Sole Lightning
                                Dive-Bombers and Fighters
                                Claims versus Losses
8.            Postscript
                                Myths Which Endure
                                Flaws and Controversies

Appendix 1 Allied Aircraft Losses
Appendix 2 Japanese Aircraft Losses
Appendix 3 Aircraft Profiles – Three Way
Appendix 4 Aircraft Profiles – Side View


"By comparing records from both sides, the chapters assemble a much more comprehensive—and accurate—picture of events. "

- Stone & Stone Second World War Books

"For the dedicated WWII aviation historian it contains every detail about the 4 main air strikes that constituted OPERATION I-GO. But it also succeeds at the level of the casual reader whose interest might be the duels between the opposing air forces or knowing about the camouflage and markings of the aircraft involved."

- j-aircraft.org

"...will be of great interest to aircraft modelers and aviation historians alike."

- AMPS Indianapolis

""For the gamer, it's a nice encapsulation that would make for an interesting campaign game, and both modelers and miniature gamers alike would enjoy the color camouflage schemes."

- Historical Miniatures Gaming Society

"[Michael Claringbould] offers readers yet another fine Pacific War-themed book which includes a crisp, yet brief analysis of Admiral Yamamoto’s last operation. His sagacious inclusion of Japanese sources provides much more context than previous histories which featured the Allied version of events and did not delve into detail regarding factors which influenced the Japanese failures, such as disease, training difficulties and crushing attrition."

- Naval Historical Foundation

"It explores elements of the operation in detail, with reference to individual’s accounts and experiences, plus support from period photos plus a selection of detailed maps, diagrams and tables containing orders of battle. Of interest to modellers, 58 colour profiles depict a variety of Allied and Japanese aircraft type involved in the operation."

- Airfix

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